College List Help

Hi everyone! I am a current junior who is trying to finalize their final college list. I have listed below all the colleges I am so far planning on applying to but want advice/guidance. I wanted to apply to less schools so if anyone has any thoughts please let me know!

I am planning on majoring in political science and sociology. I am also interested in potentially getting a master’s of public policy. I also prefer schools in/very near a large city. Any suggestions?

Arizona State University (78%)
University of Glasgow (70%)
San Francisco State University (67%)
UC Santa Cruz (50%)
George Washington University (41%)
UC Davis (39%)
Reed College (39%)
Occidental College (37%)
San Diego State University (35%)
Scripps College (33%)
American University (30%)
UC Santa Barbara (30%)
UC San Diego (30%)
Northeastern University (19%)
Sciences Po (18%)
UC Berkeley (15%)
Barnard College (12%)
UCLA (12%)

My stats:
GPA: 4.3 weighted as of now, 3.85 uw
SAT: getting my scores at the end of this montg
APs (including senior year): AP European History, APUSH, AP English Language, AP Spanish Language, AP Gov, AP Microeconomics, AP English Lit, & other honors classes

-Founder of a student, political organization
-Vice President of my school’s tutoring club
-National Project Director for a National Activism Society
-My school’s Model UN logistics officer
-Head of Activism for a student magazine
National Honors Society
-Leadership board member for my town’s philanthropy program
-Tutor for middle schoolers
-internship with my local congressman
-political fellow at a reputable democratic organization
-political researcher for my county’s democratic party

The UC’s use 3 different GPA’s in their application review so here is the calculator to determine all 3. Also the UC’s are test blind through the 2024 admission cycle so GPA will be heavily weighted. GPA Calculator for the University of California – RogerHub

Are you a CA resident? Please post your UC GPA’s.

UC’s only use 10-11th grades in their GPA calculation, require 1 year of a visual/performing arts course as a requirement and if OOS only AP and IB classes count for the extra honors points in the calculation.

Also your UC capped weighted GPA = Cal State Capped weighted GPA unless you have taken DE or CC courses.

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Yes, I am a California Resident!

Using the online calculators, my uw uc gpa is a 4.0 & capped is 4.5 I believe.

Capped weighted maximum is 4.4 and fully weighted can be up to 5.0.

You can look up the UC admit rate by High school here: Admissions by source school | University of California

Here is the 2020 admit rates overall for each campus based on your capped weighted GPA range. 2021 data will not be available until January/February 2022 but this can help gauge your chances.

2020 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 4.20 or above capped weighted and not major specific:

UCB: 37%

UCLA: 38%

UCSD: 78%

UCSB: 81%

UCD: 86%

UCI: 60%

UCSC: 92%

UCR: 97%

UCM: 98%

2020 UC capped weighted GPA averages along with 25th-75th percentile range:

UCB: 4.22 (4.13-4.30)

UCLA: 4.25 (4.18-4.31)

UCSD: 4.16 (4.04-4.28)

UCSB: 4.15 (4.03-4.27)

UCI: 4.11 (3.96-4.26)

UCD: 4.11 (3.97-4.25)

UCSC: 3.94 (3.71-4.16)

UCR: 3.88 (3.65-4.11)

UCM: 3.68 (3.40-3.96)

One way to edit your list is understanding your financial need. Do you need/want merit $ and or do you qualify for financial aid based on your family income or are you full pay ?

If you are comfortably with full pay - then ignore this :slight_smile:

Many of these schools do not give merit $, some are need blind for admissions and others will take need into account. Even if need blind, the school will ultimately define the need and using their online calculator will help - but not always 100% accurate.

Understanding your financial situation is the 1st step in building your list, IMO.


A lot will depend on your GPA. If American is a strong candidate for you, it’s all about the demonstrated interest. Get on their list. Attend three or four of their sessions / tours, etc. and you’ll get in. They have people with great credentials get rejected and lousy get in - it’s all about the demonstrated interest.

GW is hugely urban. AU is suburban. Most, if not all, you have on here are suburban. GW doesn’t even have dining halls. Their dining plan is $ at area restaurants or doordash type stuff. Should it be on your list? If so, you might add Pitt, NYU, BU - although you have Northeastern. Pitt would be a likely match - the others reaches.

You might want to add Arizona for great merit - the Honors College is fine too.

Good luck - if you picked 8, it seems a reasonable list…a few reaches, targets, and safeties.

If you get on email lists for any school of interest, they’ll send you free apps.

Many schools don’t have extra essays and let you self report test scores - so while you don’t want to apply to more, if it’s free, has no essay, no test reporting cost, you might say - why not a few more. You never know where you’ll get merit.

Gettysburg (48%)
Macalester (31%)
Tufts (11%)
Rice (9%)

From another thread:

So take off:

University of Glasgow
George Washington University
Reed College (39%)
Sciences Po (18%)
Barnard College (12%)
Occidental College
Scripps College
American University (30%)
Northeastern University (19%)

These schools do not do much (if any) merit. The ones who do have a big merit award use those awards to woo high-stats students who are likely to have other, more highly ranked choices. As you rate your chances of admission at less than 50:50, serious wooing is unlikely.

Good point - they are not necessarily in large cities - but your Alabama, Arizona (in a city, great Honors school and the dorm is nicer than any house I’ve lived in), Arkansas (neat city), Mizzou (small city), UTK (city), U of SC (great honors), FSU - cheap with 31 ACT with an OOS waiver - these are “affordable” in city. Also, College of Charleston - if you get into a special program like fellows or Intl Scholar. UKY is in a city as is U of Cincy…all affordable. U Denver (gives $30K if live in the dorm so $43K COA) - is a nice sub for AU/GW.

With law school, it doesn’t matter - your GPA and LSAT will matter more. Everyone does poli sci for law - you might have better odds of getting in trying a different major so they get diversity - give yourself a way to stand out. No major is required. Good luck.

I suggest looking into Case Western, in Cleveland and great merit aid.

You have a pretty good list, as a CA resident make sure you have some affordable options wrt safeties, typically it would be your local CSU depending on major. I don’t know if places like Northeastern or ASU are known for their poly sci programs. You may want to replace with USC or Georgetown if you remove any reach colleges from your current list.

What’s your budget?
If you can’t afford your EFC, you’ll need merit aid, but to what extent will reduce your list.
Apply to lots of UC’s (students were surprised this year so keep your options very open); remove Glasgow, Reed, Barnard; Sciences Po would likely be 15K tuition so even without a scholarship it’d be as cheap as a UC if you can get in, but Sciences Po+Columbia would be another matter; why SFSU?

I encourage you to apply to all of them that are really calling your name - but affordability is a really good course filter. Each school’s Net Price Calculator will give you a good sense of their cost. Applying to so many schools is a pretty daunting task (lots of portals, deadlines, etc) Id try to cut your list in half. 2-3 each of reach/match/safety is manageable for most students.

As a poli sci major, I’d probably swap Sac for SF - (relatively low cost of living and proximity to capitol. ). UCD is also close enough to Sac to allow students to intern at the capitol.

Good luck.

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